Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
“1 What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? 2 Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God. 3 What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? 4 Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written: ‘So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.’ 5 But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing His wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) 6 Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? 7 Someone might argue, ‘If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases His glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?’ 8 Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—‘Let us do evil that good may result?’ Their condemnation is just!”
Paul just dismantled three prevailing excuses people use to show they are not sinners. First, to say there is no God; this leads to depravity. Second, to say “Well, I’m not as bad as other people; I’m a good person.” This is the critical moralizer. Finally, to say “I’m saved because I’m a church member” or “I’ve been baptized”, a person who is a believer in name only. This is the person who’s a legalist or religious person who looks to all they do for God as the basis of their salvation.
Paul has been preaching now for 20 years. You can bet he’s made these same arguments before and he knew how people were going to respond. In fact, if he were in person saying these things, there’s no doubt there would have been someone stand up and object to what Paul was saying.
In this passage, Paul once again used a diatribe to counter arguments he knew were now in the minds of his readers. He used four objections to make his point. He may even have been reconstructing some actual arguments that were flung his way or some of his own objections before he was a believer.
Paul argued that circumcision of the heart was what mattered (2:28–29) and now addressed the question of the value of physical circumcision. Paul made the point that Jews had the advantage of being given the promises of God (v. 2). However, this advantage did not prevent God from judging them for faithlessness (vv. 5–6). As we see later in the chapter, Paul pointed out that both Jews and Gentiles were under sin (vv. 9–20) and that our only hope is to be found in God, because God Himself provided justification apart from the Law in Jesus Christ (vv. 21–31).
Paul’s point here is that God is faithful. Even when mankind is not, when His own chosen people, the Jews, are not; everyone stands guilty before God. No one will be exempt from God’s judgment on sin.
We can shake our fist at God, but until we come to the realization that we alone are sinful and condemned before God, there is really no hope for us.
Our hope can’t be found in rituals, no matter how religious and symbolic they may be, or in our efforts to keep the Law, the very words of God. In fact, the Law only condemns us; it shows us just how far we are from God’s righteousness.
Paul wanted his readers to know that the Law is not to be the basis of our hope, but instead it is God Himself that gives us hope; He is the one we are to place our hope in. He alone offers us eternal life.
We receive salvation not through the Law, but through faith in Jesus Christ. His point is that we can’t earn it; all we can do is accept it as a gift from God. This is the good news of the gospel.
So where are you at today? Are you trying to earn God’s favor by the things you do? Remember, God’s grace is not opposed to effort; it’s opposed to earning. Are you confusing the two?
*From what you have just read and considered: What is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.
Inspiration and insight for the devotionals came from the following books: Reading Romans with John Stott; The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series), Stott, John; Romans (The NIV Application Commentary Book 6) Moo, Douglas J.; Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) Moo, Douglas J.; Believers Bible Commentary; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, Romans through Galatians.